As New Yorkers continue to wait for word from Albany as to whether hydraulic fracturing will be allowed in any part of the state, a separate debate has sprung up regarding the use of wastewater from the fracking process as a de-icer on highways.
In 2012, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein signed the Hydraulic Fracturing Brine Prohibition Act. The local law prohibits the use of fracking brine on property and roads within that county. Other communities have looked into the application of brine as a de-icer. Amanda LaValle is the co-ordinator of the Ulster County Department of the Environment. She explains some citizens are worried that local governments may purchase the mixture in order to save money.
Oneida County has legislation similar to Ulster County's on its way to the full legislature for a vote in mid-February.
Some Central New York lawmakers are concerned that the liquid byproduct of fracking could be offered by drilling companies as a FREE alternative to salting or sanding roads in the winter.
Utica Common Council Member Frank Vescera is taking a preventative stance: he is leading the call to ban brine in the city. Opponents of using the brine to treat roads in the winter have consistently argued that the liquid is laden with hundreds of toxic chemicals. Not so, says John Holko, who owns Lenape Resources, a small natural gas company based in western New York
Back in Utica, Frank Vescera and his fellow council members will vote on the brine issue at their next meeting on February 6th.